Congress president Sonia Gandhi apologised to former Chief Justice of India JS Verma for waking him up at an odd hour, after her party delivered its suggestions on changing anti-rape laws past midnight at his residence.
Justice Verma also said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union finance minister P Chidambaram were instrumental in setting up the committee, and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had not interacted with him even once during the entire exercise.
"Past midnight, someone came to my residence, woke me up and wanted to personally hand over the Congress party's suggestions. But somehow the Congress president came to know about it. She was very gracious. The next day, she rang me up personally and apologised profusely, to my great embarrassment. I had to tell her do not do this," Justice Verma said on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme, telecast on Sunday night.
Justice Verma said he agreed to head the panel after Chidambaram called him up at the behest of the Prime Minister on December 23.
“Mr Chidambaram, who is not the home minister, rang me up, apparently at the behest of the Prime Minister and persuaded me to chair this panel,” he said.
The former Chief Justice of India said his committee has
not interacted at all with home minister Shinde till now. Asked to clarify, Justice Verma responded by saying, "Till today, we have had no conversation, none."
He defended the committee's decision on not recommending death penalty even in the rarest-of-rare rape cases. "It was a unanimous suggestion of even women leaders, who have been fighting for the cause for decades. Even the current trend is against death penalty," Justice Verma said.